My Highs and Lows of 2020

I’m tackling this blog post a little early since I plan to spend the rest of the month getting started with the first round of editing on my current WIP and celebrating Christmas. If we count from January 1st to December 31st, the numbers will be a little off, but not by too much.

2020 wasn’t the sh*tstorm for me as it was for some others. I still managed to write a lot of books, publish, and keep up with my blog. Let’s take a look at my numbers for 2020. I know some writers/authors who did a hell of a lot more than I did, but if I managed to get a little more work done than you this year please take it as a form of motivation for what you can do in 2021 rather than feel bad you didn’t get much accomplished. This year was unlike any other I’ve experienced and I count my blessings every day.

Books Published in 2020: 4 I spent all of 2019 writing my four-book Rocky Point Series. I published the four as a rapid release strategy at the beginning of this year. I don’t have a cultivated readership, and those books released without fanfare. How much have they earned me so far? These numbers are taken from BookReport, a Chrome browser extension.

This screenshot from BookReport says 8 books because the paperbacks are included in the count. I didn’t sell any paperbacks, and without the FreeBooksy promo I did in July, I don’t think my sales and read-through would have be been as good. And good is subjective. I have my sights set pretty high–these numbers don’t come close to what I want for my author business.

I am definitely not ungrateful–I know lots of authors would love to have these numbers. But when it comes to an author career, this is just a drop in the bucket–and I paid for those reads and sales with promos and ads. When I take a look at ad spend, I’m willing to bet I broke even. Which is fine, I’m finding readers, but without a newsletter or active FB author page, I have nowhere to keep them interested.

Sales as a whole for 2020: I have three standalones and a trilogy (also some novellas I don’t market) and these are my total numbers across all my books for 2020:

Take the 32 books with a grain of salt–I have boxed sets in there, as well as the individual Kindle and paperback versions. This number will also include the Large Print version I have of The Years Between Us. I was really hoping my series would take off, but I’ve made almost as much with All of Nothing ($634.16) as I have with the four Rocky Point books. And after I changed my cover, The Years Between Us has been doing exceptionally well too with sales of $609.24 for the year.

If you want to enlarge it, here is the breakdown for all books for the year:

Readers read a little bit of everything, which is fine. These books are an example of what not to do. Hopping around within the contemporary romance genre hasn’t done me any favors, but I’ve blogged about that and won’t bother going into it again. Needless to say, I learned a lesson and 2021 will be a new direction for me.

I also just want to add, it breaks my heart I never could get Wherever He Goes to move. I’ve run ads to that book relentlessly, and I just can’t drum up interest. I did a Kindle Countdown for it this year, and nada. Not one sale or KU page read off that promotion. It’s such a lovely little story and I hate I can’t make people read it. I’ve changed the blurb for it couple of times and I love the cover. Something isn’t right, but sometimes you just have to give up and move on. If anyone wants a free copy, let me know. Some reviews would probably help. πŸ™‚

Thanks to BookReport for letting me pull those numbers so quickly. It’s a free Chrome browser extension and it’s a nice (free up to a certain royalty earning) tool to have around.

Total Ad Spend for 2020: After seeing my royalties for the year, how did I do with ad spend? I know with some ads I lost money, and I lost some money on single books while other books made up for it. Let’s see how much I spent in ads and if it will make me cry.

This isn’t as scary as I thought it would be:

It seems I did come out ahead with an ad spend of $1,289.91 over this year. Amazon tightened their creative guidelines and I wasn’t able to run ads to my first in series for the past couple of months, and you can see that dip toward the end of this year. I would have cranked up my ads for that first in series if they wouldn’t have done that as my series is a small-town holiday wedding series that would have been a perfect read between October and now, but Amazon is Amazon and there’s not much you can do about it besides go through with the headache of changing out covers, something I did not want to do.

Ad spend needs to include a FreeBooksy promo for $110, and a promo through eBookSoda for $29.00. Even adding those two things I came away with a royalty earning of $816.46. That’s four and a half car payments, or 136 cups of coffee at $6.00/cup or 1.25 rent payments. It helps to say things like that to put into perspective. But $816.46 definitely does not cover the hours and hours of writing, formatting, and cover design, not to mention podcast-listening and non-fiction reading I do for my books.

Still, though, you have to count your blessings. I’ve had people read and enjoy my books. That’s a great feeling.

Number of books written in 2020: 7. I wrote a six-book serial and just finished up a book one in a new series. These are all billionaire romance and that is the direction I’m going to take my writing in the new year. Each book is 85-90k which gives me a total of 595,000 words written, conservatively. I know some authors in some of my FB groups have written a million words this year, but I’m going to take my accomplishment and have an extra glass of champagne on New Year’s Eve. I don’t know what my publishing schedule will be like next year. My six-book serial has only gone through a couple of editing sweeps, and I still need to edit them a couple more times and listen to them, too. Then the formatting and cover design. At this point in the game, you’re supposed to take royalties and sink them back into your business, but my $800 would barely buy me three decent covers, let alone six. And if I went with a paid beta reader, $800 wouldn’t cover what she charges, not for all six. I’ll have to think about what I want to do in regards to that. I definitely don’t want to push them out without another set of eyes, yet I simply can’t afford to hire someone to help me, and that level of favor is a pretty big ask. Anyway, I’ll keep you in the loop on the blog.

Speaking of the blog, number of blog posts written: 73. I’ve tried to be consistent this year, and I made it to 450 followers, earning, on average 1-2 new followers per blog post. Here are the stats WordPress gave me when I looked:

I’ve written enough blog posts they could be a book. Add that to my novel word count, and I’m pretty impressed with myself this year. WordPress also gave me my top commentors, and I want to thank them for consistently reading and commenting on my blog. I appreciate you and you readers are who keep me posting week after week.

Coincidentally, when I logged into my WordPress account this morning, they congratulated me on being with them for five years. I think this is just a lesson to those who think an overnight success can actually mean that. Starting up a blog is hard work, keeping it consistent is hard, if not harder. Thinking of something to write about week after week, and staying relevant, is hard work. One of my friends loves to say, if you don’t like starting, stop quitting, and that is so true in this case. Building a blog, a following, takes patience and tenacity. Thank you for being here.

As for any other highs and lows this year, I wish for as many people who have read my books either through KU or purchased them, that I would have gathered a few more reviews. We’re told not to read reviews, but when we make graphics or whatnot sometimes it’s nice to add a glowing review to encourage people to buy.

So for 2020 here is my weirdest review from His Frozen Heart:

I’ll never begrudge a review, bad or otherwise because I think they’re all helpful and I appreciate anyone who takes the time to write a little something, and for her to say she couldn’t get it out of her head could be taken as a huge compliment. Stumbling upon it did make me smile.

I applaud anyone who has managed to get through 2020 with their sanity intact. Or at least most of it. I started working from home which has been a thrill–nothing like having a cat on your desk or being able to avoid those pesky coworkers. I’ve had a few personal problems crop up, but who hasn’t. My carpal tunnel pain is still under control with those stretches that Aidy Aaward posted earlier this year (I still thank her from the bottom of my heart for them) and with a few visits to the dentist, my mouth pain is under control too, though I am sitting here with one less tooth and hopefully a plan to rectify that situation next year. I started working full-time, but so far that hasn’t stopped my productivity.

I don’t know how many books I’ll write next year while the ones I have written now are releasing. I still have to figure out a newsletter because I know after five years of writing and publishing, that is where I went wrong. If I could redo any of my choices since I started this crazy adventure, it would be building a newsletter from the very beginning of my career.

My plans for 2021?

Start/build a newsletter. Stick with a subgenre. Network more with other romance authors. Stay grateful. Stay hungry.

What will you do in 2021?

Happy New Year!

14 thoughts on “My Highs and Lows of 2020

  1. Hey Vania!

    A very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

    That review was definitely weird, lol! XD Also, I’m so happy to be in the list of frequent commentors on your blog! Your posts are always so interesting and they inspire me a lot of times, to gather the courage to experiment on my own book.

    I agree with you that all reviews count – good and bad. That’s why even when I get a bad review, I don’t reply immediately and tell myself it’s a good thing. Always getting good feedback is not healthy – we must have some mockingbirds in our backyard, so to speak. πŸ˜€

    I wish I had some publishing plans next year, but I legally cannot do that. Maybe the year after. But I do have a lot of WIPs I’m hoping to finish in the mean time, while I wait. And get some good covers for my books (including the published one). I completed a handful of novels, short stories, and poems this year and hope to accomplish similarly or better in 2021.

    Also, I’d like to read “Wherever He Goes”. I’m also planning to get some of your other books and read them. I read so many of your blog posts and tweets that I’m very curious about your novels! πŸ˜€

    I hope you have a good 2021. I’m looking forward to reading more from your blog.

    See ya!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hey there!

    All I can really say is what an INCREDIBLE year considering everything that’s happened in 2020. I’m proud of you and your dedication to your career, even during some of the painful moments like the dentist chair. You’re to be admired for sure. I’m excited to see the things published in 2021. Congrats again for a successful (in my eyes) year despite the darkness 2020 disposed on us all.


    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for the forensic and I must say brave analysis of how you have done this year as an author. It is really interesting (i.e Many many more authors should be reading this) because I believe when we start out, we think (apart fromthe fact our book- no matter what state it is in!!!- is the best thing ever written- LIKE EVER!) the job is done and people in the industry are waiting to beat a path to our door as a prelude to international fame and fortune. Your article (another stunner by the way) demonstrates that writing and having high quality work is simply the beginning of the author’s path and that there is much more to being a viable author than novice writers ever imagine. I take my hat off to you Vania. Best Paul

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! I hope I do portray an honest viewpoint of what it’s like to be starting out–even if “starting out” is five years into the industry! It’s a depressing time for indies who aren’t making money as the year-end reports of some of the authors making a lot of money are starting to come in. I know they have good intentions (If I can do it, you can do it too!) but sometimes it’s tough to look at. It seems as though everyone has a slice of the pie, yet many of us are staring at the crumbs left in the pie pan. The one piece of advice I have always believed in though, is “Keep going; your time will come.” I really believe that. If I didn’t, I think by now I would just give up. Good luck to you in the new year, and thanks for coming around!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Vania, you are honest and realistic and speaking personally that I what I like. I believe the truth of the matter is that there is a big element of being in the right place at the right time and a huge slice of luck. But if you are not out there then you cannot put yourself in the way of that luck.
        I have read a lot about Bowie – both as a ziggy-generation star-child and for a piece I am currently working on. He had no lucky breaks for over 5 years. Penny Valentine a music press journalist said something like- it is a shame about Bowie whatever it is he does not have any luck. Ziggy hitting big was basically being in the right place etc. If your work has quality and if it is out there and if you are meeting new people then you definitely put yourself in the way of opportunity. The rest as they say is in the lap of the gods.
        Good luck to you my friend.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I agree, Paul. Isn’t there a saying that says, The harder I work, the luckier I get? hahaha! Not to make light of your comment. I completely understand what you’re saying. The right blogger reads it, you connect with the right person who puts it in her newsletter, etc. Success is where hard work and opportunity meet. Your article sounds interesting! I’d love to read it when it’s available. πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

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